Thursday, 8 November 2012

I don’t mean that as a threat, but it is a reality?

Dear Readers,

The following is an excellent article by Amanda Persico of the Markham Economist & Sun, A Metroland North publication and i've presented it verbatim with my response below.....

Markham arena debate goes into OT

Markham has deferred the vote on a site plan of a proposed 20,000-seat arena another two weeks after another long committee meeting Tuesday. The vote has been deferred to the next development services committee meeting Nov. 20. Several residents, along with GTA Sports and Entertainment president Greame Roustan and Remington Group’s Randy Pettigrew, sat patiently in council chambers waiting to make deputations and present arguments for or against the arena proposal while councillors at first dealt with other business on the agenda, which included 16 items.

Camera crews and news reporters also waited for the pivotal yay or nay vote. “Everyone’s time is very valuable,” said Mr. Roustan, who flew in for the meeting. Mayor Frank Scarpitti said the project is going through the same scrutiny as other projects. “They still have to apply and get a building permit,” he said. “We’re not rushing this. This is far from a done deal. We need to get it right.” The second deferral in as many weeks begged the question of how long scrutiny of the arena proposal can continue without a decision being made.

“At some point, we all have to look at the time invested and determine how much more time we should invest,” Mr. Roustan said after the meeting. “Markham Centre is being developed as we speak. Eventually, the site will have to be planned accordingly. It won’t be a greenfield forever. I don’t mean that as a threat, but it is a reality. The project just has to wait for Markham to negotiate an MOU (memorandum of understanding). I hope that gets done in the near term.”

Negotiations are still taking place to develop a memorandum of understanding between the private sector and city staff, Mr. Scarpitti said. He also said the site plan and the financial framework are separate processes and the financial framework approved in April paved the way for more negotiations. He compared the proposed GTA Centre to London’s Budweiser Gardens, a 10,000-seat arena owned through a private-public arangement with the City of London, Ont., and operated by Global Spectrum.

A multimillion-dollar private sector investment in Markham needs serious consideration and would be a great asset to Markham’s economic development, he added. “We’ve been provided with this opportunity but we need to get the best deal possible,” he said. “Other municipalities are watching, waiting to see if we fumble the ball. We don’t get this opportunity every day.” Earlier this week, two more city councillors issued statements outlining their positions on the arena.

Ward 5 Councillor Colin Campbell said he has significant concerns about the lack of a National Hockey League franchise and the sustainability of the centre, for which the city would borrow $325 million to finance.
“Although I find the idea of Markham having a 20,000-seat sports, entertainment and cultural arena enticing, I have serious concerns with the current proposal,” Mr. Campbell’s statement reads. “This is a flawed business model. Expecting 6,000 to 7,000 average attendance for 130 events per year is not, I believe, enough to generate required funds for the MSECC to be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

The city shouldn’t be building an arena prior to securing an NHL team, Mr. Campbell said. “We should not be spending $325-plus million to lure an NHL team here. It’s not the correct way forward,” the statement reads. “This strategy is akin to building a restaurant in an attempt to lure Tim Hortons; it’s just not done this way. I believe Markham can support a team, but the proper way to move forward is to sit down with the NHL owners and commissioners and present a business case ... Until that transpires, I will not be supporting this proposal.”

Ward 4 Councillor Carolina Moretti also issued a statement saying she wants more details prior to making a decision. “As an elected official, it is my responsibility to have a thorough understanding of all proposals that come before council,” her statement reads. “It is both prudent and practical at this time to wait until all of the facts and details are presented before making a final judgement on this proposed project.” Her statement also goes on to say she will only support a project that will benefit her constituents and the city.

“Let me make this abundantly clear: in the final analyses, I will only support that which will benefit the residents of Ward 4 and the City of Markham,” Ms Moretti’s statement said. Last week, deputy mayor and Regional Councillor Jack Heath also made a public statement calling for the city to remove ties between the financial framework and the site plan application. He also raised concerns over the lack of progress made with the NHL.

The next development services committee is Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. in council chambers at the Markham Civic Centre.

                                                       Markham's wide open spaces!

my response......

....well, judging by the blowback from the 'promoters' perceived threat, the next development services committee meeting set for Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. in council chambers looks like it could be a 'barn-burner' that may attract a record crowd in Council Chambers. It appears that more Markham taxpayers know more about this $325 million dollar scandal than all of the good work Council has been doing for years! As more taxpayers get involved, Markham may just need an NHL arena to hold everybody!

                                                              Wildlife on Toogood Pond

The next municipal election will be held on October 27, 2014; less than two years away and to be sure, some current members of council may not be re-elected. Clearly, the heat is being turned up! There is even talk amongst taxpayers across the city of who should run and replace the current crowd? Would having a 'candidate against taxpayer financing' in each ward be a good idea? Let us know your thoughts by making your comments below!


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